May 2, 2012
DALLAS (SMU) – Geoffrey Orsak, innovative dean of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at SMU for the last eight years, will become president of the University of Tulsa on July 1.
The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees announced that Orsak, 48, will be their university’s 18th president, succeeding Steadman Upham, who is retiring. The University of Tulsa provides undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the arts, humanities, sciences, business, education, engineering, law, nursing and applied health sciences. Current enrollment is 4,092.
“Under the leadership of Dean Geoffrey Orsak, the Lyle School of Engineering has established new academic programs, constructed new buildings and helped K-12 school districts prepare students for collegiate engineering studies,” said SMU president R. Gerald Turner. “Most of all, he defined and educated a new type of engineer, one who combines technology with a sense of social responsibility. We look forward to watching him lead the University of Tulsa with the same innovative thinking and creativity that he has exhibited at SMU.”
“In his time leading the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU, Geoffrey Orsak has forged a bold vision for engineering education that has been felt around our nation,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “He has attracted outstanding faculty to our campus, and they in turn continue to attract top undergraduate and graduate students to our University. It goes without saying that we will miss Dean Orsak, but we know that he will bring great vision and energy to his new role as president of Tulsa University. We congratulate Dean Orsak and Tulsa.”
Orsak joined SMU as associate professor of electrical engineering in 1997. He was named associate dean for research and development for the Lyle School in May 2001, and became dean in March 2004. Prior to coming to SMU, Orsak was associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at George Mason University, where he also served as a presidential fellow.
Orsak received his B.S.E.E., M.E.E. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University.
“I have absolutely loved serving this great university,” Orsak said. “The excitement of leading the Lyle School of Engineering has been the greatest professional experience of my life. While we have accomplished so much in such a short period of time, there is no doubt that the Lyle School’s greatest days are ahead.”
Undergraduate enrollment in the Lyle School has increased by more than 400 percent while Orsak has been dean, and the percentage of women engineering students in the Lyle School is now about twice the national average, thanks to programs such as the school’s Gender Parity initiative. The southeastern section of the campus has seen major build-out during Orsak’s tenure, including the construction of the Jerry Junkins Engineering Building, the J. Lindsey Embrey Engineering Building and Caruth Hall.
Orsak’s key accomplishments while on the Hilltop include the establishment of three institutes and centers:
- The Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, which oversees multiple programs aimed at increasing interest (and the pursuit of careers) in engineering for K-12 students, including Visioneering and the Infinity Project.
- The Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, which combines engineering, science, business, international development and global economics to seek market-based solutions to improve the standard of living for those living in extreme poverty.
- The Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, which provides multiple opportunities to immediately practice leadership skills through co-op and internship programs, leadership seminars and workshops, community engagement projects and mentoring relationships.
Orsak also established at SMU’s Lyle School the first university partnership with the Lockheed Martin SkunkWorks®, which provides SMU engineering students with challenging, immersive design and prototyping experiences under the same round-the-clock, frequently unorthodox team approach to problem solving that produced such engineering marvels as the U-2 and the F-22 Raptor out of Lockheed Martin’s top secret Skunkworks lab in California.
Orsak also was responsible for bringing TEDxSMU and TEDxKids @SMU to north Texas, a series of thought-provoking programs built on rapid-fire talks and performances dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TEDxSMU is an independent program based on the annual TED (technology, entertainment and design) conferences in Long Beach, Calif.